Itis a highly readable, unbiasedly comparative and elegantly insightful study of the Quran ... Through...scriptural comparisons, Miles gets to the core of the Abrahamic matrix: The monotheism that the Jewish people developed over the centuries was inherited by Islam and was turned into a global creed ... In observing such nuances, Miles, a Christian, is as objective, fair and gracious as one can get.
[Miles takes] a novel and rather startling approach to scripture, but in Mr. Miles’s hands it allows a kind of openness to a text that, to non-Muslim readers, can seem puzzling and alien ... Mr. Miles’s account stands alone, both in its generous openness of mind and in its scrupulous yet lively scholarship ... In his treatment of the Allah of the Quran, suspension of disbelief is finely balanced by a generous suspension of his own personal beliefs, and his book is all the stronger for this equipoise.
Adopting an us-versus-them tone, [Miles] creates the effect of a book written in wartime, calling for peace ... If Miles’s goal is to show non-Muslim readers how much common ground there is between the three Abrahamic faiths, it is a perplexing decision to insist on comparing 'Yahweh' and 'Allah.' Leaving the names untranslated transforms the one Almighty into two exotic literary characters ... It is an attempt to humanize what some might see as the enemy, yet by doing so it hardens the stereotypes on which demonization thrives. Part of the problem here is the absence of Muslim voices ... The larger issue is a flawed assumption that seeps into the book and paralyzes it: that the Qur’an cannot be read as literature ... It is our loss that Miles felt he couldn’t treat the Qur’an more trenchantly as a work of art, as Muslims have done for centuries ... with the conclusion of his trilogy, Miles has shown us, perhaps inadvertently, how—ever since God switched on the lights and created his combative human interlocutors—human politics, from the archaic to the present, fills many chapters of the divine memoir.
[T]this third book, which could have simply been called Allah, is much more modest than the other two [God: A Biography and Christ] in both content and ambition ... It’s clear where his expertise lies; he admits he doesn’t know Arabic ... Despite being an Episcopalian, Miles says he writes not as a religious believer but as a literary critic ... And with this key, Miles avoids the distracting question of belief, thereby enabling us to understand. But rather than being a thorough excavation of Allah, God in the Qur’an focuses on the sections of the Koran that retell biblical stories ... In the Bible, Yahweh often acts like a violent, jealous lover. Yet Allah is like a stern but forgiving grandfather ... Aside from theological differences, it’s interesting to note that from a literary perspective, the revised stories in the Koran are told with less indirection than they are in the Bible ... And so with its corrections, the Koran loses the literary artistry of its predecessor.
Miles is still an engrossing storyteller and a very capable teacher, here organizing his material around a handful of key figures from earlier scriptures: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus ... But everything hits a wall ... Readers will still encounter many of the fascinating insights that filled the [author's] previous two books, but, ironically, they'll find no revelations in these pages.
Generous, if critical ... [an] engaging yet disappointing book ... readers will leave the book feeling that there is much more to be said about Allah outside of the narratives that the Koran shares with the Old Testament and New Testament. Missing from this picture of Allah are many ethical and legal topics, historical events of Muhammad’s era, and exhortations to prayer and charity that dominate the text of the Koran. Although Miles’s attempt is admirable, it lacks authority and its limited appeal only extends to a non-Muslim audience.